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The "Split Cowl Collar" Tutorial

This is a tutorial about how to add a wide or narrow, short or long, 
or overlapped and asymmetrical collar to any knit top.

First let's talk about the basic garment. The collar I'll be showing you can be added to any basic knit top.  Here are some examples of patterns by Butterick and Vogue that would work with an added collar. Note that the necklines are either "crew" or "jewel" in general shape and depth..in other words..nicely rounded and not particularly deep or wide.

I am going to show you how I added a wide overlapped collar (what I call a ""Split Cowl") to an otherwise simple knit pullover top. The bodice and sleeves are made with Rayon knit Jersey purchased from www.GorgeousFabrics.com several months ago, and the collar is made from gray rayon ribbed knit that I have in my "fabric stash".  ** Please note that all seam allowances used in this tutorial are 1/4-inch---if you start with a pattern that has 5/8" seam allowances, the neckline seam allowance needs to be trimmed to 1/4-inch  **

Here are the bodice pieces shown side by side.  The front neckline is about 5-6 inches deep.  At the end of this tutorial you will see variations that have lower or higher necklines but the construction technique is the same.

The next step is to sew the shoulder seams--

Now the complete neck-edge (the "hole") needs to be measured.  I've found that the easiest way to measure the length of curves is to stand the tape-measure up on its edge, and that is what is shown below- 

Because the collar is going to be overlapped and so therefore "scientifically exact" measurements are Not needed, I am going to say that this neck edge is 21 inches around.  A collar needs to be made that is 21-inches long, plus a generous 3 inches for overlap and to have enough to seam the ends.  So the LENGTH of the over-lapped collar needed to fit this particular neckline is 24"...and I usually add an extra inch to give myself a little more overlap. Now what about the width?  I have made so many of these tops over the years that I know that I like the results best when the cut collar width (flat and single thickness before it is sewn) is 8 inches to 12 inches wide.   As you will see, this is an arbitrary width measurement, and after you make one, you will see the endless design possibilities by changing the width and shape of the collar. 

So I have decided that for this top, my collar will be cut 25 inches LONG and 10 inches WIDE.

WAIT! Before we all go cross-eyed...let's pause a moment and put this into perspective-- Remember...this is an easy technique...you'll see!  It boils down to this--A very basic rectangular collar is  going to be stitched into "the neckline hole" that you see above.  There, that's it in a nutshell!  Now let's continue....

Normally I just go ahead and cut out my collar from the fashion fabric and stitch it in. However, you can make a "test" collar from scrap fabric (that you can use as a pattern later) to see if you've measured correctly and like the width and finished folded depth of your collar.  Below is a piece of scrap fabric that has been cut to my determined 25- inch length and 10-inch width.

Then I quickly folded it in half lengthwise, and sewed the short ends with a 1/4-inch seam allowance--

Next I turned my "test" collar right sides out....and then overlapped it in preparation for it to be sewn to the neck-edge  (the yellow  pin you see is holding the overlapped collar at its raw edge....the folded edge of the collar is toward the bottom of the photo)--

The photo below should make things more clear. The bodice has been turned wrong side out, and the collar is going to be "dropped" inside of the neckline "hole", all the raw edges will be aligned, and the collar will be basted (by hand or by pins) to the neckline...right side of collar to right side of neckline.

Note that a yellow pin has been placed at the center back of the shirt and another at the center back of the collar.   Then...when the collar  is dropped down into the neckline "hole"...

...it is shifted off center before basting, as shown below. The collar as shown below was quickly pin-basted  to the neck-edge in a one-to-one ratio (in other words, the collar is the same length as the neckline, neither one needs to be stretched or eased to fit the other).   If the collar is a little longer or shorter than the neck-edge, just increase or decrease the amount of the overlap.

To check the appearance of the test-collar, turn it right side out, as shown below--

I was satisfied with the appearance of the collar, and decided to use the same measurements for the "real" collar.  If I had wanted to, I could have quickly taken the stitching out and used the test-collar as the pattern for the "real" collar, but I like to just measure and cut simple rectangle shapes with my ruler and rotary cutter, rather than scissors and a pattern. So I did so with grey ribbed knit  The short ends of my ribbed collar were stitched and turned right sides out.....and then I hand basted the raw edges to prevent them from shifting before I stitched the collar into the neckline "hole".

In the photo below, the shirt is folded in half, matching the shoulder seams and the neck-edges. The collar is folded in half as well and compared against the neckline, as a guideline for how much to overlap the collar....and where to place the overlap (which is your choice..it can be placed wherever you want it to be).

 Then, as was done with the "test" collar, the collar is "dropped into the hole" of the neckline...right sides together, all raw edges even.

The collar is stitched to the neckline with a 1/4-inch seam by sewing machine or serger. The seam can be left as is, however I  like to finish the seam so that it lays flat by top-stitching it down from the right side, as shown below.

Below you see the finished collar and bodice from the right side--

As you look at the photograph above...are you wondering how a collar that is the same length on each short side, now looks like one edge is quite a bit longer and...that now, somehow, the collar is asymmetric? Here's why: The upper side of the overlap is exactly that...an OVER-lap. 


Well...because is has to go up and OVER the other side-edge of the collar, it merely appears to be shorter!  And because the under-lap does not have to do anything but lay there....it merely appears to be longer!  I just love when a straight collar "auto-magically" becomes asymmetrical  just because one side overlaps the other :)

Here are some variations of the design based on the same theme--

This red velour top was made with a more shallow front curve, about 4" deep.  The collar was cut about 9" wide, with No overlap.  The collar was fully interfaced with Pro-Sheer Elegance Fusible Interfacing from www.FashionSewingSupply.com so that it stands up on the neck a bit. Additionally, because the collar was interfaced, the entire  neck-edge and shoulders were reinforced  with a 3/4-inch wide strip of the same interfacing, as shown below.

This version in Aqua stretch velour features a deeper U-shaped neckline, and the collar was cut about 8" wide with No overlap.

This collar was applied to a neckline about as shallow as the Red top, and has about a 4" overlap and is the widest of the examples shown, it's width is approximately 12".

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and see what a simple technique this is for adding an interesting design feature to any basic knit top!

What do you think? Please add a comment by clicking here-->


Blogger shams said...

Yay, I've been looking forward to this! I thought it was a rectangle and I'm glad to see how you've done it. This is a very on-trend neckline right now! (And it's what I used on my recent winter coat. A *great* neckline!) A very well done tutorial!

9:00 PM  
Blogger AuntieAllyn said...

This is a GREAT tutorial, Pam (actually, ANOTHER great tutorial) . . . thanks so much for sharing!!!

9:00 PM  
Blogger Margy said...

I've been waiting for this! Thank you, Pam!

9:09 PM  
Anonymous Andrea said...

Pam, thank you for posting the tutorial. It is very clear with great pictures. I'm looking forward to making one!

9:10 PM  
Blogger Nicki said...

Thank you so much. It is amazing how something so elegant looking can be so simple.

9:13 PM  
Blogger Nicki said...

Thank you so much. It is amazing how something so elegant looking can be so simple.

9:13 PM  
Blogger Jillybejoyful said...

Yippee! Your post is starred to use with my next basic knit top - thank you!

9:22 PM  
Blogger BJ in TX said...

Ohmygosh...this is amazing! Thank you for making this SEEM easy - I love the look and can't wait to try it!

9:23 PM  
Blogger LakshmiRP said...

Thanks a lot for this, I recently bought a serger and now all set to sew knit fabrics.

9:33 PM  
Blogger Texan said...

Very nice! Thank you for the tutorial.

9:58 PM  
Blogger Martha said...

Thanks so much for this cool tutorial. It is rather Downton Abby-esque even tho intended for a knit top.

10:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just had a chance to do a quick look through the tutorial. As usual, up to you fine standard and the tops are very nice. I'm not big on knits but it's been so cold here lately that I'm leaning toward some cuddly comfort so this is going to get bookmarked for future reference. You must be feeling better. And thanks for the tute.

Theresa in Tucson

11:02 PM  
Anonymous twotoast said...

Great tutorial - a simple but very effective finish to a top . . . I will be trying this in the very near future, thanks!

11:07 PM  
Blogger debbie said...

Thank you! You're so right.This is so very easy. I had a thought that this was how you did it. I'm always looking for new easy ways to finish knit necklines. This one will definately be used a few times.;)

11:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is wonderful: beautiful collars and excellent teaching. Thank you! Elle

1:35 AM  
Blogger Alison said...

Thank you! You have made that so clear and simple, that I can hardly wait to try it out, in one variation or another...

3:02 AM  
Blogger patti said...

Hi, Pam--thanks so much for this tutorial! Your instructions, and the photo illustrations, are a model of clarity.

3:40 AM  
Blogger Karen Baking Soda said...

Wow!! So many possibilities I see...
Thank you for thiw wonderful tutorial. I'm in the midst of making a dress that "needs" a little something so will try this!

3:45 AM  
Blogger Claire (aka Seemane) said...

Another GREAT tutorial Pam! Thank you once again for sharing your wealth of knowledge with us :)

4:51 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Excellent tutorial, very clear - the images make it even more understandable. I will definitely pin this one on my "Sew DIY" board. THanks!

5:01 AM  
Blogger Sewing Princess said...

This is beautiful! thanks so much!!!! I hope you are all feeling better! (I read the previous post now cancelled...and came to wish a prompt recovery...so I was so surprised you found time to publish the tutorial. I am ever grateful.

6:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You. Are. Da. Bomb. Thank you for being so detailed - this looks totally simple. I am terrible about providing information on my blog - you are my hero.

6:30 AM  
Blogger Samia said...

This is so neat and clear, a very easy to follow tutorial.
Your pics are crystal too !
Thank you so much for this hard work. I know how long it takes to give a detailed explanation of anything ; this is even more true of a detailed explanation understandable by even a very ungifted seamstress , namely me !
Thanks again.

6:34 AM  
Blogger Ann said...

Great tutorial Pam and I have it book marked for a later project.

8:21 AM  
Blogger Linda T said...

Thank you, thank YOU, THANK YOU! This is fabulous. Thanks for sharing the how to on this!

9:11 AM  
Blogger Liana said...

Great tutorial, Pam! Collars are so flattering to most of us, and it's so nice to have your lovely version as an option.

9:14 AM  
Blogger Beth (SunnyGal Studio) said...

fantastic, can't wait to try it.

11:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another wonderful tutorial, Pam! You are so talented and generous..thanks!

Fran G

1:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very much anticipated and appreciated.

Elaine in Saskatchewan Canada

2:41 PM  
Blogger Siebensachen said...

I had no idea that the collar is that easy to make. Thanks a lot for the tutorial.

4:11 PM  
Anonymous EDITH said...

I am SMITTEN! Must do "right now"! THANKS!

4:47 PM  
Blogger Virginia said...

Thank you Pam!

7:34 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you!!! I have B5753...now I'll make it with a collar. And thank you for getting rid of word verification!

9:35 PM  
Blogger Kay. said...

Thank you very much Pam. I have been looking forward to this tutorial too. Kay.

10:07 PM  
Blogger Angela said...

Oh thank you so much! I am bookmarking this and will be using your techniques soon. You are great!

11:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well worth the wait! I'm sure I'll use this again and again.

6:27 AM  
Blogger Becky said...

In a word - SMART!
Looks smart.
You are smart!

Thank you so much for sharing!

12:36 PM  
Blogger Roberta said...

LOVE this - thank you for sharing! I can't wait to try it.

1:56 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

Thanks for sharing this excellent tutorial - so simple and elegant. My mind is awash with possibilities of how I might incorporate this.

3:26 AM  
Blogger Vicki said...

Thankyou! I have pinned it for later. Too hot here at the moment for collars.

5:12 AM  
Blogger Njeri said...

Thank you for this Pam, I could hug you right now! I can now be able to create multiple tops from my basic bodice block.

5:42 AM  
Blogger Rose said...

Great tutorial. A split cowl collar knit top is on my sewing list - near the top!

6:04 PM  
Blogger Sew Lady Sew! said...

Thanks for the great tutorial! I love how posh the garment looks. Who knew it would be so simple?

8:14 PM  
Blogger Doris W. in TN said...

Thank you for this tutorial, Pam.

9:35 AM  
Blogger meredithp said...

Thank you so much, Pam! Excellent tutorial! I plan to try it out at the first opportunity. And thanks for all the examples with measuremennts. Eliminates all the guesswork out of my first attempt. :-)

4:54 PM  
Blogger Dk's Wife said...

Thank you so much!

2:53 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This is an awesome tutorial. I can't wait to try it. You are so wonderful and so clear with your tutorials.

11:17 PM  
Anonymous Joan S said...

Another wonderfully clear, useful tutorial. Thanks so much.

2:50 PM  
Blogger Kathryn said...

I love the overlapping cowl look. Thanks for sharing this with us:)

3:42 PM  
Blogger Enid said...

Love this great tutorial! Thanks!

6:54 AM  
Blogger KellysSewing said...

Thank you so much for making and sharing this tutorial. I have been waiting! Having recently perfected a TNT basic knit top, this was perfect timing. I made one up this morning, and have already received compliments on it! I love the way it dresses up a plain knit shirt. Thanks again!

6:30 PM  
Blogger Beckyiheart said...

I love love love these! I will be sewing quite a few, I think!

8:14 AM  
Blogger Margie said...

Thank you for this great tutorial, I have used it quite a few times with different effects from various fabrics and widths.

9:47 PM  
Blogger Christen said...

Great Tutorial!! Have you ever tried doing a peter pan collar this way??? I'm making my daughter a knit dress for school and all their uniforms tops must have a collar on them. I thought the Peter Pan Collar would be fun.

10:35 AM  
Blogger Sondra said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:05 PM  
Blogger Sondra said...

I'm contemplating using this technique on a woven fabric dress with a zipper down the back. I'm envisioning cutting the collar into two pieces and otherwise doing as the tutorial says. Is this possible, or am I not understanding this?

4:33 PM  
Blogger Pam Erny said...

Hi Sondra, I worked this up as a variation of a knit garment, giving no thought whatsoever about making it from a woven fabric. So...with that in mind, I suggest making a sample garment/test garment from woven fabric first, before committing an entire length of "good" woven fabric to it.

7:29 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Pam I just found your blog and want to say thank you for sharing your talent with me. I will be trying different collars for sure now that I know how to do it.

12:45 AM  
Anonymous robbiesews.com said...

thank you so much for such a wonderful, easy change to a simple top. I can't wait to try this. Thanks again!

10:26 PM  

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